Shoe Dissection: Inside the Nike Kobe XI Elite Low

Shoe Dissection: See Inside Nike Kobe XI Elite Low

Today we have a pair of the Nike™ Kobe XI Elite Lows in the Sneaker factory teardown lab. The color is Hyper Grape, Black with a clear gel sole. Sorry to all you Nike and Kobe Fans but we are cutting this shoe apart right now!

The Kobe XI Elite Low is made by force lasting or stobel lasting. This is the most common construction technique for Air Jordan and Nike basketball shoes. One unique thing about the Kobe XI Elite bottom unit is the clear rubber sole and clear stobel sock. These allow you to see through the bottom and into the shoe. The assembly process for the Kobe XI is conventional except the shoe cement must be clear and have a UV stabilizer to prevent the sole from yellowing. The glue is carefully applied to maximize the see-through effect.

Kobe XI Elite low outsole with clear rubber and stobel
Kobe XI Elite low outsole with clear rubber and stobel

The rubber sole part is made by conventional rubber compression, but the tooling has some special features. The inside of the Kobe IX bottom tooling has a smooth polished finish instead of rough texture designed for maximum bonding. During disassembly we found this did cost Nike some bonding strength, the Strobel was easy to pull off – the bond was not to the standard 4KG per square cm.

The Strobel sock material is a blue-tinted clear nylon plastic sheet. This is a unique Strobel material, most shoes have stitch bonded polyester fabric. The Strobel stitching thread is clear nylon mono cord thread. Mono cord thread is much like fishing line.

Kobe XI Elite low drop midsole
Kobe XI Elite low drop midsole

The Kobe XI Elite Low also features a drop in combination midsole/footbed. Rather than trapping the midsole between the Strobel sock and the rubber outsole, the midsole is molded with footbed contours on top. The stated benefit is that this allows the foot to be closer to the floor. The downside is the midsole and footbed are now a single density of the foam. In this case, the standing surface has a higher density than a conventionally made basketball shoe. The cost is a reduced “try on” comfort in stores.

The Nike Kobe XI Elite upper is 4K computer knit fabric. The fabric is reinforced with a welded TPU eyestay and non-woven internal eyestay. The tongue lining, internal gussets, and the toe lining are constructed with 3mm air mesh.

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Shoe Material Design GuideWe have included annotated cross sections of over 30 different shoe types. You can see exactly how each material is used inside real production shoes. See inside basketball shoes, running shoes, track spikes, hiking boots, work boots, high heels, cowboy boots, and many more!

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